The news coming out of Romania, a south-eastern European country that was once part of the communist bloc, was one that gave many of us pause. Seems, Mr. Liviu Dragnea, the head of the ruling Social Democrat Party had just been imprisoned on a three-and-a-half-year term on graft charges. (see the International section in yesterday’s DAILY OBSERVER). The exact nature of the charges against Dragnea, a man with a checkered past, to say the least, was that he’d kept two women on the payroll of a child protection state agency for a number of years, never mind that they were working for his party. Hmmm! This sounds so familiar. Pick almost any Caribbean country; pick almost any politician; scrutinise his wheels and his deals and his supposed popularity and you are liable to find, graft, cronyism, no-show jobs, double-dealing, self-dealing, and hidden financial interests in just about anything that moves and shakes in the blessed country.
Just ask the schoolchildren, and they will tell you who are the real owners of the big trucks that travel hither, thither and yon on the streets of any given country, who are the real beneficiaries of the sketchily-awarded contracts, who are the girlfriends, mistresses and family members who are making out like bandits and laughing all the way to the banks. Oh yes, this archipelago is rife with chicanery and shenanigans in high places, and unlike the people of Romania, we seem to lack the will to do anything about it.
Consider the words of the Mighty Sparrow in WE LIKE IT SO, a hard-hitting song penned over thirty years ago, and one that still applies to so many of our Caribbean countries today: “The pipe ain’t have no water / You pay too much for butter / We like it so / The terrible school system / Is such a bloody problem / Agriculture’s in a state, planning is inadequate / The north and southern idols; the two kingpins above all / We know, but we like it so . . . / . . .Plenty roti, plenty rum (plenty ham and turkey?) / De hospitals ha no linen, is brown paper dey using / Public transportation is an abomination / Food, clothes and rent is proof, cost of living gone through de roof / Classified information for personal gain is common / Is plenty sexual favour, to be a ten-days worker / Children come out ah college below elementary knowledge / We grieving with frustration through maladministration / Bribery and corruption control every decision . . . “ Good grief! Hmmm! We believe that we have seen this movie before. Heck, we are the suffering peons in this blasted movie! (See also the Mighty Sparrow’s enduring classic, GOOD CITIZEN)
Anyway, to get back to this fellow named Liviu Dragnea, a real piece of work, and a character not unlike many we have seen in high places in many of our capitals. He was “already barred from being Prime Minister by a previous conviction in a vote-rigging case.” (Reuters). Hmmm! And as if that
were not enough political skullduggery, he “is also under investigation in a separate case on suspicion of forming a criminal group to siphon off cash from state projects.” Help us, Lord! This fellow looks so much like a person or persons, known and unknown.
And Dragnea’s greatest hits are not done yet. No. not by a long shot. According to Reuters, “Dragnea spent more than a decade as county council president of southern Teleorman county – one of Romania’s poorest areas – where he started amassing power. Later, as regional development minister, he created a fund doling out cash with little oversight to county councils and mayors, helping shore up his support.” Hmmm!
Apparently, politicians are the same, the world over! Boy, I tell you. Many of them seem to knock one head. They are cut from the same tattered cloth. Rather than genuinely caring for the people, they are all about themselves and their own shelf-life and enrichment! If perchance, the people benefit from a project, well high heaven be praised, ‘cause that is brawtha! Rest assured, it was not the original and overarching intent of our politcos. With every project, the first thing that comes to their feckless minds is, “What, in the name of creative enrichment, is in this for me, myself and Irene! How can my kith and kin benefit?” For shame! Stop this madness! Stop this world, we want to get the hell off! We need a course correction!